WHO says "community outbreaks" imminent while Mexico closes offices; How much will the pandemic cost?; Japanese economy shows 'green shoots' of recovery; Britain leaves Iraq; and more
Top of the Agenda: Pandemic 'Imminent'
The World Health Organization raised its alert level for the swine flu outbreak to the second highest level, indicating that the institution believes a pandemic--defined by "community level outbreaks" in multiple countries--is imminent. Here, from the WHO's website, is a summary of the different levels and what they indicate. The head of the organization said the main goal of raising the alert level is for every nation to ready itself (WashPost) to activate emergency response plans, and to prod other near-term actions in response to the outbreak, particularly at a corporate level.
The New York Times reports Mexico, the early epicenter of the swine flu outbreak, has now implemented aggressive containment measures to keep people from congregating in public places. Among other things, Mexico's president ordered government and private offices not crucial to the Mexican economy to stay closed for five days (FT).
President Obama, at a press conference last night, called for keeping the U.S.-Mexican border open, saying there is little sense in closing it now that the flu has struck in many U.S. states.
- The New York Times has a graphic showing swine flu's spread internationally. New cases were confirmed today in Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Peru.
- Two experts discuss the potential economic cost of the likely pandemic on Foreign Policy.
- CFR's Laurie Garrett and two other experts discuss some of the challenges of countering the disease on Charlie Rose.
PACIFIC RIM: Japan Economic Bump
In a potentially positive sign for the Japanese economy, industrial output rose in March (BBC) for the first time in six months.
At the same time, however, the government forecast its worst gross domestic product growth (Asahi Shimbun) since the end of World War II for 2009.
S.KOREA: South Korea's former president, Roh Moo-hyun, faced questioning today (Korea Times) over alleged bribery.